Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weeds and Alders Become Garden

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Past 5:30 PM. I can still see the lower road from my office window. The birds have left the feeders for the day and things are quiet except for Karl the Wonder Dog as he barks at ice fishermen, slow to make the corner as they head home for the day.

All gardeners have vision. It comes in a million different types. Some visionaries are self starters and need little or no help, others need confidence, a physical assist, a refined mental picture or a drawing of the project. I have seen many and helped my share. It's easy for me because I have always been a person who plans and implements.

The day Gail and I closed on the nursery property we drove down with Alex and walked the land. We mentally located the road and parking lot, and the office and sales area. We paced out in our minds the shade houses and we enjoyed the thought of being so busy with something we both loved. We walked down the hill towards Marshfield Village and I told Gail the plan I had for a large hosta and shade plant garden. She was quiet and I don't recall even a comment.

Over the next nine months I heard Gail tell friends what I wouldn't be able to accomplish and I have to admit if you looked at these pictures as she looked at the property itself, it sounded like an idea whose time would not come quickly. She didn't doubt the end result, she questioned my time line.

For years the farm tractors, haying equipment and corn harvesters had avoided the piece of land I saw as a new garden. Part of that was the alders and boxelders that had grown from the river's edge toward the field. The area held water in spring and after any significant storm, and the soil was poor enough that weeds and grasses prevailed with vigor.
I walked around this piece time and again. The feeling was similar to how I felt for the years before I constructed the foundation garden on Peacham Pond Road. It was one of those glass-half-empty, glass-half-full things. Did I focus on the potential beauty or the back ache of cutting trees and pulling weeds?

I really liked the spot because the back side that formed our property line was an old road used to back up town and state trucks and dump sand into piles for the roads. The road stood out in my mind and I could envision a walk way with an opportunity for visitors to walk above the hostas and look down on the colors, textures and heights.

I couldn't quantify the required time in hours or days. I told myself that I would have it ready to begin planting by late June 2009. Gail smiled, I labored and the new garden was ready on time despite weeks of rain and cold weather. Here's a section (below) that was completed by June 16th. Some mature hostas were moved whole while others that I knew would be in demand were divided into smaller clumps and spaced appropriately. A mix of maple trees, blue cedars, lindens and weeping larches were added, and blocks of daylilies, 25-30 plants per block, were planted in one color of the same plant as I had seen done at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

This should give a vision of "my vision", the idea I had as Gail and I walked the land the day we bought it. I'm not there yet but this shares the idea. More to come. Be patient.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the sun has retired and the temperature has slipped to 21 degrees. Thanks for touring with me!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm

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Ilona said...

I loved taking the tour through your dreams and vision. From your photos, I see the promise of it, too.

George Africa said...

Found this comment today on Twitter. The Old Farmhouse Restaurant is in Medford, Oregon, home to Jackson & Perkins roses.

TheOldFarmHouse "Make sure that every business decision you make supports your vision and upholds your brand."

That fits with my vision of this shade garden.

George Africa

George Africa said...

Hi Ilona;

Haven't heard from you in a while. Check back in a few days and I'll have the final piece of this garden up and well pictured. Couple-three more years and it's going to be really special.

Getting ready for first real snow since just after holidays. Supposed to get going tonight.